July 11, 2013

The Soapbox of Natural Vs. Not


There are some amazing hospital photos I cannot wait to share with you all, for those who haven't yet seen them. And there are probably dozens of posts trapped in my head that have nothing to do with babies, for those of you who are worried. But the past two weeks, I have thought a lot about the differences in labors with Millie and Walter. Specifically, their nearly opposite paths, and the reason they're both just fine.

With Millie: Water broke naturally, contractions were slow, not allowed to use jacuzzi tub, given Pitocin, begged for an epidural, spent 4 hours pushing, 22 hour labor.

With Walter: Contractions were very fast, no drugs at all, water broken by midwife right before he was born, used jacuzzi tub for a few minutes during transition, spent 1 hour pushing, 5 hour labor.

Maybe I wasn't qualified to say this before, but I feel I am now- if labor ends in the birth of a baby, then it was successful. Millie's birth did not go at all the way I had hoped it would. I wrote up a lovely birth plan, if I do say so myself, and might as well have asked for a paper shredder as soon as I reached the hospital. As you all know, I think it gave me even more fear about Walter's birth. But because I had such strong desire for a natural labor the first time around, I felt like a complete and utter failure that I had allowed the Pitocin and caved to an epidural so easily. I remember asking Sky, while we were still in the hospital with her, if he was disappointed in me for not being able to do it "on my own". Looking back, I think that's kind of sad. Why should it matter what anyone else thinks?

These days, it seems like women are scolded into thinking that anything other than a completely natural birth is terrible for the baby. Why is the achievement of birth taken away from women who didn't do it that way? Does a C-section make someone less of a mother than someone with an aromatherapy, hypnotic water birth? I think that is ridiculous. (And while we're on the subject- this reminds me of the people who plan for weddings and not marriage. Let's focus on the raising of our kids more than just the getting them into the world.)

I so tire of hearing women wearing natural birth as a badge of honor, because the truth? The truth is that both labors were incredibly painful. (Labor generally is, right?) In fact, I could probably be persuaded to say that the labor with Pitocin was much more difficult and painful. To make it through that pain and end up with a beautiful baby is a huge accomplishment. In fact, it's one of the biggest of my life. I don't think points should be deducted because of how it was done- the fact is, I did it. No one else. I own those hours, and I alone know how they felt.

I almost hesitated to admit that Walter's birth was drug-free, because it implies that it matters much more than I think it should. Having compared both births, I would obviously pick an experience like Walter's over Millie's; it was a very short (although very intense) labor, and I felt more in control of myself and the situation because of all the complications that went along with my first labor. But I'm tired of feeling like I wasn't enough the first time.

Here's to the mamas- however they were made. Whether planned or not, adoption or carried, fertility treatments or none, years waiting or the first try, and any kind of labor imaginable- the goal in the end is to be a mother to a sweet baby.

And, written with complete bias and lack of humility, I feel like I have accomplished that.

20 kind comments from you:

MrsMcDancer said...

Amen! It's so sad that the judging never seems to end. Natural birth vs assisted. Breast feeding vs bottle. Cloth vs disposable. We face so many choices as a parent and those choices are ours to make. We shouldn't ever be bullied into thinking we are less than for choosing what we feel us best for us!! (And in situations like labor you don't always have control. It shouldn't matter. We are women hear us roar lol)

Kaylee said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

Deanna said...

I remember a few weeks after my sister unexpectedly lost her baby (one week old, full term, no health issues) reading a blog post of a blog I used to like. The title was along the lines of "OMG I Just Got The MOST HORRIBLE News About My Baby And I Will Never Recover From This!!!" I was terrified as I clicked on the link- expecting the worst, fresh off the grief of losing my nephew. Her post then went on to explain how her doctors weren't going to let her do a VBAB so a C-section was her only option and her dreams for natural birth were crushed forever. She went on and on and on about how she wasn't going to be able to live with this and she wasn't sure she would survive the humiliation. I was seriously disgusted with how she was portraying it as the worst grief possible for a mom. I just wanted to give her a slap and say "YOUR BABY IS STILL ALIVE" just do whichever way that will get the baby here safely to STAY alive...BE THANKFUL. I think there is waaaay to much put on this- you are right. Prepare for the marriage, not the wedding. Great perspective here.

Mrs. K said...

I had pitocin & an epidural with K and everything "naturally" with Baby A. I can definitely say the first one was much more painful. It lasted longer, the epidural sucked, and recovery was icky.
Anyway, I agree with ya. The wedding comparison is a good one, I think. I hate how it all feels like such a competition!

Michelle said...

1. Yes.

2. I am linking this in my Friday Finest post tomorrow.

3. My step mom is a labor and delivery nurse {almost 30 years} and she swears that the people with the perfect birthing plans are always the ones that end up with an emergency section. The ones who go with the flow and take it as it comes are the ones who end up with the great experiences.

Beckey said...

I think it all comes down to informed choices. If a mother has all the options in front of her and is able to make informed decisions about her birthing experience - then whatever she decides to keep her and her baby happy and healthy is what it should be. Unfortunately too many moms go in with blinders on, or in the emotion and physical strain of the moment are pushed to make choices they don't want.

I worked with expectant and new moms for 13 years and always told them that every one she meets while pregnant is probably going to tell her a) how horrible delivery was or b)how great it was and why how she did it is the ONLY way to go!

I'll be honest... I had #1 with no epidural, etc. It was a long long labor, delivery hurt like I never imagined. I hate feeling like I have no control over my body and what it is feeling. With #2 I asked for the epidural. It was a beautiful delivery. I was in control. I held a conversation with my hubby and dr in between pushing. With help of a mirror I watched my baby enter the world. For me, an epidural was a better choice to have a better birth experience. (and probably for DH also. LOL)

Jen said...

I absolutely love this post!!!! You have no idea how much.

Julie Monroe said...

I haven't had kids yet but I love your take on this. Especially the line on weddings vs. marriage!

Kate Boyer said...

Congratulations, Erika - love the name Walter, btw!
My first two babies were hospital births with an epidural! I loved my hospital experience, loved my doctor, love the meds - great experience!
But... for the next three births, I had them all naturally - and at home :) My homebirths were beautiful experiences, it was everything I had hoped it would be. All 5 times, I was just SO relieved to be done with it all - it just didn't matter!
Being in the "ultra natural" home birth community, I saw how crazy they got about people who choose drugs in the hospital. It's really sad and it shouldn't be that way. I love all my births, and I just want the right to have them the way I want it and not dictated by anyone - especially not my peers!
To each their own, I say!
Too much judgement happens in the mean girl land...

Warrior Wife said...

Thank you for a beautiful, non-judgmental post.

Chantal said...

Beautiful words. Though I struggle with my natural birth turned c-section, because I wanted that natural birth so much, and a c-section was so hard. I think even if I had Pitocin and an epidural, it wouldn't have been as difficult as a c-section.

greaterexp said...

Those two wonderful, gorgeous children were worth whatever you went through to get them, be it 200 hours or 20 seconds of labor. (20 seconds sounds pretty good!) Well done!

Steph said...

I love this post! I had an elective C-Section and it does not make me less of a mother.

Michelle said...

Obviously I have birthed no babies, but this makes me so happy. I CONSTANTLY hear/read about women bragging about natural births and cramming it down everyone's throats and it disgusts me. I don't care how my future child is born, all I care about is that it's healthy.

Fran said...

And this is why we're friends. When did it become okay to judge someone else's choices or circumstances? As long as the baby is healthy, who cares?

JG said...

*applause*

JG said...

*applause*

Bethany said...

LOVED this post! <3

reccewife said...

I don't know why I missed this, but yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
And also Amen.

Cat said...

This is a fabulous post. Yes, plan on how you are going to be an awesome mom. The labor part is really just a means to an end. (Or a beginning, actually.)

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